Popular art is not up for the fight

June 27, 2022

The Supreme Court’s recent rulings on abortion, guns, and prayer in schools have made me think a lot about popular dramatic representations of explicitly liberal political drama.

In many ways, “Hamilton” is the most Obama-era Democratic Party piece of dramatic art, in that it seems carefully calibrated to offend no one, and it suggests representation, itself, is good enough to inspire, enact, and maintain positive change against reactionary forces. But “Hamilton” was far from the first such drama to take that specific, self-defeating tack. While “The West Wing” has become a go-to object of scorn from leftists highlighting Bush-era liberal drama, I think more about a Bush-era stage musical that was turned into a Hollywood film that grossed more than $200 million worldwide that also presented racism as an obstacle that can be overcome with representation and wit alone.

There's nothing complicated about those Rays players' bigotry

June 6, 2022

When I played high school baseball in the late 1990s, there was a guy on the team who said, without irony, that he had no problem with gay people but that he did not appreciate them shoving their gayness in his face. There was rampant homophobia at my school so this conversation would have been unremarkable except that several other guys on the team pushed back and asked him what, precisely, he meant by that. Was he really asking people to not be themselves? What if someone suggested he not shove his straightness in everyone else’s face?

We didn’t get anywhere with him, but I thought about that day when I read that several Tampa Bay Rays had refused to wear Pride-themed patches and caps.